Use of Hyphen When Writing Fractions with WordsDate: 01/20/2004 at 10:08:45 From: Colleen Subject: Writing fractions in word form Is there one correct way to write a fraction in word form? I have seen one-half and have also seen one half. I have seen 2/3 written as two-thirds or as two thirds. Are both ways (with a hyphen, without a hyphen) acceptable, or is only one truly correct? Date: 01/20/2004 at 13:15:46 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: Writing fractions in word form Hi, Colleen. I usually reserve the hyphen for use in keeping the name of the denominator together. For example, 1/5 = one fifth 1/25 = one twenty-fifth 2/100,000 = two hundred-thousandths 200/1000 = two hundred thousandths But you will also see hyphens within numbers when the entire number is used in certain special settings: One third of a piece A one-third share A hundred thousand dollars A hundred-thousand-dollar income That may be what you have seen. See also these pages: Writing Numbers with Hyphens http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/63129.html Written Form of Decimals http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/58968.html On the other hand, a web search reveals lots of writing style guides that seem to recommend always using the hyphen in fractions, without making a distinction as to usage. Here is just one of many examples: http://owll.massey.ac.nz/writing/grammar_punctuation/hyphen.htm Any two numbers or fractions that are written as words are hyphenated. When she reached the age of twenty-one, Sylvia inherited three-quarters of a million dollars from her trust fund. This page doesn't give an example of a fraction, but does clearly explain why you use hyphens in the cases I showed above, called "compound modifier". An example is a woman-hating religion is utterly different from a woman hating religion Here, finally, is a page that ALMOST agrees with me: Ask the Grammarian http://www.bewrite.net/community/tips/atg_hyphenating_numbers.htm There is some controversy, though, over whether or not to hyphenate fractions like three-fourths. Some sources say to hyphenate fractions always and others say to hyphenate them only when using them as an adjective, as in a one-half owner. I say, keep it simple, stupid: if you always hyphenate fractions when writing them out, you have fewer rules to remember. "Is a fraction always hyphenated? No, it is not. A hyphen is not used with a fraction that is not serving as an adjective. 'Today he paid one half of the tax,' not one-half." -- The Wordwatcher's guide to Good Writing and Grammar Here is another site that says not to hyphenate all fractions; but it somehow turns the rule on its head just where it is most needed: http://www.thegladiator.info/grammar/grammar4.phtml Hyphenation: Consult the Chicago Manual of Style. ... Fractions and hyphens: Fractions are almost always hyphenated when they are adjectives. e.g., "He is one-quarter Irish and three-quarters Nigerian." But when the numerator is already hyphenated, the fraction itself is not, as in "ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths." Fractions treated as nouns are not hyphenated. e.g., "He ate one quarter of the turkey." So both rules are to be found, but the best reason for always using hyphens is just to make it easy for people to remember the rule! I still say our rule is best when you want to make sure every case will be understood; but then, grammar is not math (obviously!). If you have any further questions, feel free to write back. - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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